by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: Having played just 21 games in ten years mostly because of inconsistent football in Pakistan due to politics and third party’s interference, the country’s Denmark-born skipper and a fine striker Hassan Bashir is very happy that FIFA has lifted the suspension which it had imposed on the country in April last year.
‘’It’s fantastic, amazing, long-waiting and comfortable,’ Hassan told ‘The News’ from Denmark in an interaction while reacting to FIFA’s recent decision regarding lifting Pakistan’s suspension after all pertinent requirements had been fulfilled.
‘First of all congratulations to the players playing in Pakistan who are waiting for some serious departmental league football. I am so happy for them,’ he said.
Hassan was skipper of Pakistan senior team when it last played in the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers home leg against Cambodia in Doha in summer of 2019.
Former Fulham defender Zesh Rehman had captained the side in the away leg against Cambodia. Pakistan’s presence in the qualifiers had been ensured by the former president of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) and the current Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) vice-president Faisal Saleh Hayat despite facing a huge hurdle at home as a PFF under Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah had also been formed at that time as a result of the elections conducted under the apex court’s orders in December 2018. There was a camp at home for the World Cup qualifiers also which was being managed by the Ashfaq-led body and one was being managed by Faisal in Bahrain as his body was being recognised by FIFA and had the authority to field the team against Cambodia.
Hassan hoped that now the country’s football would keep its ground. ‘I hope this is for good and I hope this will be going to stay,’ he said.
He plays for AB Tarnby, a Danish third division club. Although he is 35-year old, the amazing striker remains active and is keen to represent Pakistan in future. ‘I am still very active, playing in the third division in Denmark. I am looking forward to playing for Pakistan again,’ Hassan said.
Denmark has produced some top footballers for Pakistan, also including goalie Yousuf Butt, his brother Yaqoob Butt, striker Mohammad Ali and winger Adnan Mohammad.
Hassan said that he was in touch with Yousuf Butt and Butt was also happy over the development of the country’s return to the international circuit.
‘I am also in touch with Yousuf Butt alot and he is also very happy and he is also looking forward to it. Adnan Mohammad and Mohammad Ali are also looking forward to it,’ Hassan said.
The FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee is busy in bringing the PFF headquarters into a proper shape which will pave the way for resuming activities. Although there is no major assignment for the country’s senior football team during the coming 12 months, the elite side still can get some international friendlies on FIFA Days. That would have helped the players to shrug off their rustiness which is very important for preparing for future major assignments.
FIFA Days fall in September 2022, March 2023 and June 2023 — the time-frame during which NC will be handling Pakistan’s football.
NC’s mandate has been extended for a year by FIFA and it intends to ensure Pakistan’s return to the international circuit as soon as possible.
‘It’s our prime target to ensure the country returns to the international circuit,’ a senior NC member told this correspondent.